Pollution risks worsening global water scarcity: Study

14
Pollution risks worsening global water scarcity: Study


Pollution risks worsening global water scarcity: Study
Eutrophication in a lake in China. Credit: Mengru Wang

Water scarcity can affect three billion more people than previously expected by mid-century, with increased pollution rendering river sources “unsafe” for humans and wildlife, researchers warned Tuesday.

The UN’s climate science panel has said that around half the world’s population currently faces severe water scarcity for at least a month a year and warned that global warming impacts and rising demand are key risks to global supply.

But new research by scientists in Gerseveral and the Netherlands has found that if harmful nitrogen pollution is factored in the number of areas considered water scarce increases dramatically.

“In general, people worry more about water scarcity—whether you have enough water,” lead author Mengru Wang, of Wageningen University & Research, told AFP.

“But I also see that water pollution is really becoming a more and more important issue that makes water unsafe to be used by nature and humans.”

Human activities are spewing large amounts of nitrogen, pathogens, chemicals and plastics into water systems.

Nitrogen, from agricultural fertilizers in particular, contributes to algae growth that can choke waterways, threaten marine life and compromise water quality.

The new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, analyzed river basins around the world, which are key sources of drinking water and hubs for urban and economic activities.

According to the authors’ computer modeling, the number of sub-basins—smaller units in the river basins—facing severe water scarcity was twice as much as previously thought in 2010 and can get much worse in the coming decades.

They estimate that in 2010, 2,517 sub-basins in the world were facing water scarcity, when nitrogen pollution’s impact on water quality was taken into account, compared with just 984 according to conventional assessments based on quantity.

That figure can rise to up to 3,061 by 2050, they found, estimating this might affect roughly 6.8 to 7.8 billion people—or roughly three billion more than in conventional estimates.

Co-author Benjamin Bodirsky, senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said the modeling of three different scenarios that affected pollution levels showed “we do have choices and can improve the situation”.

But he said that even in the most optimistic estimates, nitrogen pollution might stay at “substantial levels” in important agricultural areas like Europe, China and India.

“The deterioration of water access can be halted, and to some extent even reversed, by adopting more efficient fertilizer use as well as more vegetarian diets, and by connecting a larger proportion of the global population to water treatment facilities,” Bodirsky said.

More information:
Mengru Wang et al, A triple increase in global river basins with water scarcity due to future pollution, Nature Communications (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-44947-3

© 2024 AFP

Citation:
Pollution risks worsening global water scarcity: Study (2024, February 6)
retrieved 6 February 2024
from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-pollution-worsening-global-scarcity.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.




Disasters Expo USA, is proud to be supported by Inergency for their next upcoming edition on March 6th & 7th 2024!

The leading event mitigating the world’s most costly disasters is returning to the Miami Beach

Convention Center and we want you to join us at the industry’s central platform for emergency management professionals.
Disasters Expo USA is proud to provide a central platform for the industry to connect and
engage with the industry’s leading professionals to better prepare, protect, prevent, respond
and recover from the disasters of today.
Hosting a dedicated platform for the convergence of disaster risk reduction, the keynote line up for Disasters Expo USA 2024 will provide an insight into successful case studies and
programs to accurately prepare for disasters. Featuring sessions from the likes of The Federal Emergency Management Agency,
NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, TSA and several more this event is certainly providing you with the knowledge
required to prepare, respond and recover to disasters.
With over 50 hours worth of unmissable content, exciting new features such as their Disaster
Resilience Roundtable, Emergency Response Live, an Immersive Hurricane Simulation and
much more over just two days, you are guaranteed to gain an all-encompassing insight into
the industry to tackle the challenges of disasters.
By uniting global disaster risk management experts, well experienced emergency
responders and the leading innovators from the world, the event is the hub of the solutions
that provide attendees with tools that they can use to protect the communities and mitigate
the damage from disasters.
Tickets for the event are $119, but we have been given the promo code: HUGI100 that will
enable you to attend the event for FREE!

So don’t miss out and register today: https://shorturl.at/aikrW

And in case you missed it, here is our ultimate road trip playlist is the perfect mix of podcasts, and hidden gems that will keep you energized for the entire journey

-

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More